Cherry Shrimp – Species Profile & Facts
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Are you looking for a unique and low-maintenance aquarium pet? In that case, the Cherry shrimp should be at the top of your list.
This bottom-dwelling crustacean is colorful, affordable, and non-demanding. Not to mention it makes an excellent aquarium cleaner if you’re dealing with annoying algae.
If you’re interested to learn more about this wonderful species, keep reading! This article covers everything you need to know about Cherry shrimp.
I cover everything from the tank setup to breeding, pricing, and more! But first, let’s clarify what exactly is a Cherry shrimp.
What is a Cherry Shrimp?
The Cherry shrimp is a small freshwater crustacean in the Atyidae family.
It originated from China and Taiwan, where it naturally inhabits slow-moving waters with rocky streambeds and rich vegetation.
This species’ scientific name is “Neocaridina davidi,” although this name refers to all available morphs.
These shrimps are naturally olive or light brown. But thanks to selective breeding, red, blue, orange, yellow, violet, and even black morphs are available.
The red-colored Neocaridina davidi is the most common, and it’s what aquarists colloquially call a “Cherry shrimp.”
The intensity of the shrimp’s red pigment determines its grading and average sale price. There are multiple grades available.
Here they are in order of intensity:
- Ordinary Red Cherry shrimp (very low intensity): pale reddish-pink, with multiple translucent spots
- Sakura Red Cherry shrimp (low intensity): light orange-red color with fewer translucent spots
- Low-Grade Fire Red Cherry shrimp (medium intensity): solid bright red color with or without a light orange sheen
- High-Grade Red Fire Cherry shrimp (high intensity): very deep and vibrant block red
- Painted Fire Red Cherry shrimp (insane intensity): the deepest, most intense, and opaque of all reds
Besides the red pigment differences, the Cherry shrimps above are identical in all other aspects. These crustaceans are hardy, easy to care for, and don’t need much space.
Their laid-back nature and simple requirements make them an excellent addition to community tanks. Whether pale or deep red, these shrimps will help you beautify the bottom layers of the aquarium.
Cherry Shrimp Requirements
In the wild, Cherry shrimp live in tropical regions with slow-moving waters. Their natural environment includes warm temperatures, rocky streambeds, and lush vegetation for feeding.
Since the Cherry shrimp evolved and adapted to these living conditions, you should emulate these in the aquarium.
Doing so ensures your shrimp will thrive and feel most at home. You’ll have to keep three things in mind— the aquarium setup, the water parameters, and a species-appropriate diet.
Below is a comprehensive rundown of what each entails:
– Tank Size & Setup
Cherry shrimp are small and non-territorial. Lucky for us, since that means they don’t need much room.
You can keep 2-5 shrimps per gallon, so the minimum aquarium size is up to you. However, I recommend at least a 10-gallon aquarium.
This aquarium size allows you to keep more plants and have more space for the aquarium equipment.
You can keep up to 20-50 Cherry shrimp in a 10-gallon aquarium. Since Cherry shrimp are bottom-dwellers, the best aquarium is a wider one with more floor space.
Next, let’s see what you should put in your Cherry shrimp tank. First, the substrate. Choose a rocky substrate, such as pea gravel or pebbles. This is closest to the shrimps’ natural habitat.
Include plenty of hiding spaces and décor such as driftwood, rocks, and caves. The shrimps need a safe retreat when growing and shedding their shells.
Most importantly, you’ll need to add plenty of plants to the tank. Plants not only emulate the shrimp’s natural environment, but they also contribute to the shrimp’s diet.
Cherry shrimps enjoy eating old plant matter and biofilm that grows on aquarium plants. There are tons of plant species to choose from.
Some of the best choices for your shrimp tank include:
- Java Moss
- Christmas Moss
- Pearl Weed
- Water Wisteria
- Java Fern
- Dwarf Water Lily
Small carpeting plants like Java Moss, Christmas moss, and Pearl Weed are the most popular choices for shrimp and other bottom-dwellers.
These plants are low effort and provide good coverage and nutrition for Cherry shrimp. Not to mention they look cool in the aquarium!
Finally, you’re going to need aquarium equipment. Boring, I know, but very important nevertheless. Aquarium equipment lets you achieve and maintain optimal water parameters for the Cherry shrimp.
Since Cherry shrimp are very sensitive to ammonia, nitrates, and low temperatures, you’ll need a filter and heater at the bare minimum.
For 10–20-gallon aquariums, a simple hang-on-back filter is more than enough to maintain optimal nitrate concentrations. Most cheap heaters are good for low-volume tanks.
Since you’ll be growing aquarium plants, you’ll also need some lighting. LED lights are the best because they’re low-cost and don’t overheat the aquarium.
– Water Requirements
Cherry shrimp can adapt to a wide range of water parameters. That’s great because they can live in most community tanks.
But for the shrimp to thrive, you must ensure the water values are closest to their natural living conditions in the wild.
The ideal water temperature for Cherry shrimp is 70–75°F. The water should also be slightly acidic to slightly alkaline, or 6.5-8.0 pH, when measured with a testing strip.
Water hardness (the total amount of dissolved magnesium and calcium in the water) is equally important.
This value influences the molting and breeding cycle of shrimps. For Cherry shrimps, soft water measuring 6-8 dGH is ideal. But they can adapt to 4-14 dGH values (soft to hard water).
Ammonia and nitrites should be 0 ppm. Total nitrate concentrations in shrimp tanks mustn’t exceed 20 ppm.
– Feeding & Diet
Cherry shrimps are omnivorous scavengers. In the wild, they’ll consume anything small enough to fit in their mouths.
This means they eat mainly microorganisms, phytoplankton, dead plant matter, and algae.
In the aquarium, they’ll eat any finely chopped or flaked food. You should feed them a combination of shrimp pellets, algae wafers, and finely chopped vegetables.
Finely crushed fish flakes, crushed bottom-feeder tablets, plankton blocks, and freeze-dried brine shrimp are also good food choices for Cherry shrimps.
Cherry shrimps will also consume dead plant matter and algae growing in the aquarium. Given their small size, they don’t need much food. You should feed them two to three times weekly.
The ideal meal size is one the shrimp can eat in 2-3 hours. Remove uneaten foods after three hours to prevent nitrate spikes.
Do Cherry Shrimp Need a Heater?
Yes, Cherry shrimp need a heater for a few reasons. First, Cherry shrimp thrive in high temperatures, which are closest to their natural living conditions. Secondly, shrimp are sensitive to rapid temperature fluctuations.
Sudden swings in water parameters lead to stress and might even cause health issues.
You’ll need a heater to maintain warm temperatures year-round and keep your shrimp comfortable. Cherry shrimp also undergo physical and metabolic changes in lower water temperatures.
Temperatures under 70°F reduce growth, appetite, and metabolism and even stop the shrimp from breeding. Low water temperature also slows down the molting process and prolongs the time between molts.
A temperature between 70-75°F is optimal for proper shrimp growth, molting, and egg development.
Warm water also contributes to a lower mortality rate and more intense coloration in Cherry shrimp.
Do Cherry Shrimp Need a Filter?
An established filter is the only way to maintain stable water chemistry and minimize ammonia and nitrate spikes during feedings.
Therefore, a filter is indispensable in any tank. All aquarium pets are sensitive to toxic by-products like ammonia and nitrates.
But shrimp, in particular, are vulnerable to these compounds. Most freshwater fish may tolerate nitrate levels up to 40 ppm.
In contrast, shrimp start experiencing acute toxicity when nitrate levels exceed 20 ppm.
A high concentration of nitrates and breakdown products in the water interferes with the shrimp’s nutrient absorption and metabolism.
These toxic compounds impede the uptake of trace minerals necessary for molting.
Unsurprisingly, this can lead to failed molts, physical injury, and even death.
How Much do Cherry Shrimp Cost?
As you know by now, several grades of Cherry shrimp exist. The shrimp’s coloration influences the average sale price.
Low-grade shrimps like the Ordinary Red Cherry shrimp or the Sakura Red Cherry shrimp are the cheapest. Such specimens cost $1.5-$4 apiece in most stores.
High-grade Cherry shrimp are not only pricier but also rarer. It takes more effort to breed such morphs, so it makes sense.
Fire Red Cherry shrimp and Painted Fire Red Cherry shrimp sell for $6-$8 apiece, depending on the retailer.
Buying Cherry shrimp in groups is usually cheaper. You’ll typically find them sold in groups of 3-12, although some shops have packs of 20-30 shrimps.
What is the Lifespan of Cherry Shrimp?
Cherry shrimp live for 1-2 years when kept in ideal conditions. This entails proper water parameters and a healthy diet.
This is the standard lifespan for most small shrimp species. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but Cherry shrimp are also easy to breed, so you won’t run out of shrimp anytime soon!
Cherry shrimp are quite hardy and unlikely to get sick. However, there are two major health concerns you should know about.
The first one is a parasitic infection. Vorticella, a fungal parasite, usually infects shrimp and could lead to threatening health issues if it attacks the shrimp’s gills.
The second one is improper molting. Cherry shrimp molt once a month. During this process, they shed their old exoskeleton, and they’re vulnerable to injuries and poor water parameters.
In the worst-case scenario, the shrimp may come out with missing limbs or get stuck in the old skin and die.
You can prevent both of these concerns by maintaining a clean tank, optimal water parameters, and feeding your shrimp a mineral-rich diet.
Other things that can negatively impact Cherry shrimp include water treatments like CO2, malachite green, copper sulfate, furan antibiotics, and formalin.
How Big do Cherry Shrimp Get?
Cherry shrimp are quite small. A full-grown adult reaches 1-1.5 inches on average.
In rare instances, Cherry shrimp might grow slightly over 1.6 inches long. Females are also slightly larger than males.
You shouldn’t expect the shrimp you buy from the pet store to get any larger. However, juvenile Cherry shrimp might still grow for up to two weeks.
It takes roughly 70-80 days for shrimplets to become sexually mature adults. A young Cherry shrimp typically grows 1-3 millimeters per week.
Are Cherry Shrimp Aggressive?
Cherry shrimp are among the most peaceful aquarium pets. These small crustaceans are calm, timid, and passive. When threatened, Cherry shrimp flee to safety rather than defend themselves.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, they don’t have teeth, and their claws are so small they couldn’t hurt a fly.
The sensitive Cherry shrimp don’t go out of their way to interact with others and aren’t territorial at all.
They spend a lot of time hiding, especially when first introduced to the community tank. They need to be in groups of four or more to feel safe and confident.
A small group of Cherry shrimp will roam the bottom of the tank without drawing attention to themselves.
Most of their time goes into searching for algae, dead plant matter, and other bits of food.
Cherry Shrimp Tank Mates
Cherry shrimp are small and shy. They’re also vulnerable because they move slowly and can’t defend themselves against predators.
You must choose compatible tankmates to keep them safe and comfortable in the community tank.
Avoid large, energetic, or aggressive tankmates. Such species can stress or even injure the shrimp.
The ideal tank mates for Cherry shrimp should be of similar size and temperament. Cherry shrimp tankmates must also thrive in the same water parameters.
Below are just some of the best fish and invertebrates that fit the bill:
- Neon Tetras
- Cardinal Tetras
- Sparkling Gourami
- Dwarf Rasboras
- Chili Rasboras
- Dwarf Plecos
- Pygmy Cory Catfish
- Salt And Pepper Cory Catfish
- Mystery Snails
- Nerite Snails
- Bamboo Shrimp
- Amano Shrimp
- Ghost Shrimp
Are Cherry Shrimp Good for Beginners?
Cherry shrimp are excellent for beginner aquarists. They have slightly different care requirements than common aquarium pets like Guppies or Goldfish.
However, different doesn’t mean difficult! Once you get the aquarium setup down, Cherry shrimp become some of the most undemanding pets.
- They’re not predisposed to illnesses (provided the aquarium is well-maintained)
- They’re easy to feed because they only eat a few times a week
- They don’t produce much waste, so the water stays clean for longer
- You don’t need a large tank to house them
- They’re compatible with most community fish and invertebrates
- They keep the aquarium clean by eating unwanted algae
- They’re super easy to breed
All you have to do is complete a 30% water change weekly and maintain proper water parameters.
Feed the shrimp a balanced diet rich in minerals, especially calcium. That’s more or less what Cherry shrimp need to thrive.
How to Tell if Cherry Shrimp is Male or Female?
Distinguishing between male and female shrimp comes in handy for breeding. For easy and successful breeding, you need a group of 10 shrimps with an even male-to-female ratio.
Luckily, Cherry shrimp males and females are easy to distinguish once they reach sexual maturity.
Here are some differences to look for:
- Size: Female shrimp are larger than males. Female Cherry shrimp grow up to 1.5 inches on average, while males measure ¾ of an inch.
- Belly shape: Female shrimp also have sturdier-looking bodies. Females have rounded and voluminous abdomens because they must carry eggs while breeding. Males appear thinner and have straight-lined bellies.
- Color: Females have richer and deeper coloration regardless of the shrimp’s color grading. Males look paler and may have a more translucent sheen.
- Saddle: The saddle is a pale yellowish spot on the shrimp’s upper back. This is where female shrimp hold unfertilized eggs while breeding. Since male shrimp don’t carry eggs, they don’t have a saddle.
Remember that Cherry shrimp take 3-4 months to reach sexual maturity. Thus, I suggest waiting at least three months after the shrimp are born before sexing them.
Trying to do this any earlier would prove difficult, as the distinguishing sexual characteristics aren’t fully developed yet.
How do Cherry Shrimp Breed?
Cherry shrimp are very easy to breed. However, the conditions in the aquarium must be suitable to encourage breeding. The adult shrimp will need a heavily planted aquarium and a temperature of 80-82°F.
You may need only one mated pair of shrimps, but a group of 10 shrimp with a 1:1 male and female ratio is best.
Maintain a stable high temperature and feed the shrimp a high-protein diet to encourage breeding.
When breeding, the female Cherry shrimp will release hormones into the water. Male shrimp will approach the females and fertilize their eggs.
Female shrimp carry the fertilized eggs for 25-35 days. When the eggs hatch, the shrimplets are fully independent from day 1.
You may keep the baby shrimp in the same aquarium as their parents. But beware if you keep the shrimp in a community tank. Even the smallest fish might eat baby shrimp. Cherry shrimplets are less than 2 millimeters in size after hatching.
Continue feeding the adults and baby shrimp normally. The shrimplets will grow 1-3 millimeters per week, becoming juveniles at 60 days of age.
It takes roughly 75 days for baby shrimp to grow into adults. After 75-80 days, the new adults are ready to mate.
The Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi) is a beginner-friendly aquarium pet. It comes in various grades, going from pale to deep crimson red.
Whichever Cherry shrimp grade you choose, they’re all wonderful additions to community tanks. These crustaceans are small, timid, and get along well with peaceful tankmates.
Cherry shrimp need just 10 gallons’ worth of space. They thrive in soft, warm, and neutral pH water. The ideal aquarium setup has a rocky substrate and many plants.
As for their diet, these omnivorous crustaceans consume shrimp pellets, crushed tablets, flakes, algae wafers, and freeze-dried brine shrimp.
With the right aquarium conditions and diet, Cherry shrimp will live for up to 2 years.